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Farmer sentiment hits its lowest level since before Trump’s election as the China trade war drags on

Farmer sentiment plunged in May to its lowest level in nearly three years as the trade war with China escalated and concerns about economic conditions grew, according to a survey released Tuesday.

May’s Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer declined 14 points from the prior month to a reading of 101, which is the lowest point since October 2016. It said the sentiment index is now at levels that have erased all gains recorded following President Donald Trump’s election.

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Ag producers are telling us the agricultural economy weakened considerably this spring as the barometer has fallen 42 points (29%) since the start of this year,

said James Mintert, director of Purdue’s Center for Commercial Agriculture and the barometer’s principal investigator.

Farmers have been facing one of the wettest spring seasons in decades as a result of heavy rains and flooding in large sections of the Midwest and Eastern Plains region. Corn and soybean planting paces are the slowest on record since the mid-1990s, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The later planting means the crops are considered more susceptible to risk of injury and lower yields from summer heat and early fall frost damage. Also, some producers may switch to shorter season varieties of corn and soybeans, but that also comes at the risk of lower-yielding crops.

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